Volunteers served some 200 meals to those in need during the annual Thanksgiving dinner at The Salvation Army shelter in San Bernardino.
Maj. Steve Ball welcomed diners with a blessing and invited them to “Stay as long as they liked and to enjoy the fellowship.” As diners enjoyed heaping plates of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and cranberry sauce, Charles Bryant sang Christmas classics and some big band tunes to the musical accompaniment of Dr. Luis Gonzalez on keyboard.
Ball indicated with the economic downturn of recent years the “Need is greater,” as more people lose homes and fall on hard times. Ball said he’s seen 15-20% drop in donations of food items they rely on “day by day.” Ball’s wife, Maj. Nancy Ball, estimated they had 100 volunteers, more than needed, some of whom simply dropped by. She indicated they could use volunteer help at other times too, even to “Serve tomorrow night.”
Volunteer Shirley Hirst, serving with husband Albert and two of their children, described the experience as “Giving back to the community. It’s near and dear to my heart.” She indicated her father, the late John Tillman, was instrumental in bringing a Salvation Army residential facility to San Bernardino, and her mother, Roberta Tillman, sits on a local advisory board.
As Charles Bryant danced to the musical accompaniment of Dr. Luis Gonzalez, Yolanda Williams of Highland, dining with her daughter Brieann Tates, age 7, remarked, “We have family we can visit, but I’d rather come here. ” Williams stayed at The Salvation Army shelter for two months in 2010, but now has a job, a car and is working to complete her Bachelor’s degree online. “I feel like this is more my family than my family.”
See a link to a story written from my notes on The San Bernardino Sun’s website.